"If Bafana Bafana don’t qualify for the 2023 Afcon, you can kill me."
This is one of the bold declarations made by newly appointed men’s national team head coach Hugo Broos, who also showed his humorous side during his official unveiling on Wednesday.
The 69-year-old added that he “didn’t come here for the retirement cheque and go back to my country without success”.
Instead he emphasised as “a must” that South Africa should qualify for future major tournaments.
Broos – who succeeded Molefi Ntseki after Bafana failed to reach next year’s Afcon in Cameroon – admitted that Bafana’s attempt to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar would not be easy.
To his credit, while he was addressing his maiden press conference at Safa House in Nasrec, Johannesburg, Broos showcased the significant amount of homework he had done on Bafana, based on his on-point analysis of the team’s current state, particularly the weaknesses.
“If there’s something that I want to ask from you, it is patience,” he pleaded.
His immediate task will be to guide Bafana in the bid to reach the World Cup. South Africa is in the same group as Ghana, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. The qualifiers were supposed to start in June, but CAF moved kick-off to September due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“We’ll do everything to qualify for the World Cup next year.
But you have to be realistic also. It’s not an easy group; you have Ghana again and then you have Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, which are dangerous countries,” said Broos, who steered Cameroon to the 2017 Afcon triumph.
“On the other side, we try to build a successful team. And you know when you are rebuilding there are also moments of weakness. It can happen that we are not qualified for the World Cup.”
“It must not be a disappointment when we are not [qualified] because it can happen. So don’t be angry when we have not qualified for the World Cup, but in 2023 it’s Afcon and if we are not qualified for that you can kill me,” he said to much laughter from the sizeable media contingent present.
“But we’ll do everything to qualify for the World Cup. Who doesn’t want to go to the World Cup? Only crazy people.”
Broos also revealed that Macedonian-born Cedomir Janevski would be one of his assistant coaches, while a yet-to-be-named South Africa will occupy the other spot after consultations with the Safa technical committee in the coming days.
Janevski is the current head coach of Olympiakos Nicosia in Cyprus, and the 59-year-old and the local coach will possibly take charge of Bafana’s planned two friendlies for the next Fifa international week in the first week of June.
This because Broos said he has to return home later this month to have his second jab of Covid-19 vaccine in Belgium on June 4.
As he wrapped up the conference, the coach was adamant that he’d succeed during his tenure despite some doubting his abilities.
He recalled that even when he first arrived in Cameroon five years ago, some of the locals were sceptical about his appointment.
“Everybody was telling me: ‘You’ll never be a coach in Africa ... You don’t have African experience.’ I had to deal with 22 million ‘coaches’,” he said about the football-mad population of the West African country.
“So what I want to say is that I have the experience to deal with pressure. I know [South Africa] is looking forward to success. If you look at my CV, there is plenty of successes.”
“But, first of all, we have to rebuild the team. It’s easy to talk when you have a team.”
As a starting point, Broos pointed out the mental aspect of players as something that needed to be worked on.
“Always the opponents score first, which means the players are not mentally ready. This is a big thing to work on. But I know I’ll succeed in [building] the confidence of these players. We have good players. You can have football qualities, but when it’s not right here [pointing to his head], you can’t win the game.”
For now Broos will follow some of the remaining PSL matches as he officially begins his tenure as Bafana coach.